After a somewhat chaotic, unpredictable holiday schedule, I’m enjoying settling back into “normal” life. One of my favorite relaxation activities—besides practicing asana—is to read cookbooks. I inherited this from my maternal grandmother, who always had a stack of Gourmet magazines on a stool in her kitchen. That same stool now occupies a spot in my own kitchen.
It turns out that my niece has caught the vegan cooking bug. This year she and her husband sent me a wonderful cookbook that I’d never heard about—Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. Vegan Richa is actually Richa Hingle, an award-winning recipe developer, blogger and photographer. Her site, VeganRicha.com, features her recipes and tantalizing photographs.
When the craziness of the holidays had subsided, I decided to sit down with my new cookbook to get familiar with it. I randomly opened to page 128—Chickpea Lentil Quinoa Spinach Stew. The photograph, along with the recipe’s designation as a one-pot meal, were enough to cause me to look no further for my evening meal.
Sometimes recipes for Indian food can look intimidating because there’s always a long ingredient list. If you look more closely, you’ll see that most of the ingredients are spices. I’m not a big fan of the taste of commercial curry powder, but I do love to combine spices for Indian dishes. To make it more streamlined, I mix the powdered spices together beforehand in a small bowl.
I will definitely make this recipe again. It took very little time to prepare and was complex, satisfying and delicious. I’m looking forward to trying more recipes from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen.
Chickpea Lentil Quinoa Spinach Stew
Cook time: 25 mins
1/4 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
1/4 cup quinoa
1 15 oz can chickpeas or 1.5 cups cooked (safed chana)
1 tsp oil
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped or thinly sliced
1 mild green chili, finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 large tomatoes
2 packed cups of spinach (add more for greener soup)
3 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger knob
1/4 tsp black peppercorns (or add black pepper later)
2 cups water
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp raw sugar or other sweetener
2 Tbsp cashews, chopped (omit for nut-free)
pepper flakes, lemon juice, cashews, cheese shreds for garnish
Wash and drain the lentils and quinoa and keep ready. Drain the chickpeas and keep ready.
In a pan, add oil and onions and green chili and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Saute in broth to eliminate oil.
Add the spices and mix well and cook for a minute.
Meanwhile, blend the tomato, spinach, garlic, ginger, peppercorns with 1/2 cup water into a smooth puree.
Add to the pan and mix well. Add the lentils, quinoa and chickpeas and mix.
Add salt, sugar and 1.5 cups water and cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Stir once in between. Add cashew pieces and mix in, taste and adjust salt and spice. Add water if needed for soupier consistency. Cook for a few minutes.
Serve hot topped with red pepper flakes, cheese shreds of choice or cashew cream, crackers, flat bread or rolls.
Vegan Richa’s variations: Add a 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk for creamier soup. Add veggies like cauliflower, sweet potato etc. Add a tsp or more nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. Change up the spice blends. Change it up to personal preference. Don’t have lentils, omit them. Don’t have quinoa, use millet, couscous or rice.
My variations: I used some Lacinato kale instead of the spinach, and roasted the cashews for about 8 minutes in my counter top convection oven. Also, I did the blender step first (step 4 in the above recipe). I wanted to have the sauce ready to go before I started heating the other ingredients since the onions and chiles don’t have to cook for very long.